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Pencil Paranoia
By Kay Brown

One day, I would like to find a pencil! Obediently, a nifty little pencil holder stands adjacent to my telephone, yet within that holder I invariably find items like melting tubes of Chapstick, leadless mechanical pencils and deceased AA batteries. There are never useable pencils in that can. Ever. This is my own, private little nightmare.

Increasingly, it is becoming one of the great mysteries of my universe why there are never writing implements in that cute little receptacle. None of my six children can enlighten me as to why all of my pencils disappear into thin air. Wisely, I stopped asking my husband about insignificant problems like missing pencils, years ago. He is much too busy trying to figure out how to feed all of us.

I really do not ask for much. All my dishes are cracked, my shampoo bottles are full of water and my linens are beyond hopeless. I have quite nobly accepted it all. Is it silly to ask the Lord to show me why I cannot maintain a steady supply of pencils? This dilemma will probably remain a mystery until I am with Him in heaven. Honestly, along with questions that are more appropriate, I am planning to ask God why pencils never stayed in my holder.

There must be reason. There is always a reason. If there is not a reason, part of my life has no real meaning.

Every single day, I deposit new pencils in the cup and distribute the odd assortment of items that have magically accumulated in their place. It is not a difficult task, but it is almost impossible to do it without seething about the culprits that habitually commit this annoying crime. I must admit I usually harbor a slight amount of resentment.

Ah ha! I think I know why this is happening. Maybe this missing pencil phenomenon can teach me something about maintaining God's peace in my life. Despite concerted and well-documented efforts, peace remains elusive and unattainable in our home. I crave peace!

Not surprisingly, 'slight resentment' has definitely been stealing that peace. This morning, as I sulkily prowled through my home looking for pencils, my beady eyes landed on a small, harmless girl. She was quietly drawing in her sketchbook with a pencil.

Triumphant at last, I cried, "You! Where did that pencil come from?"

Her wide, innocent eyes met mine, "Oh, it was in my drawer, Mommy, see? It's the 'Jesus Loves You!' pencil you gave me at Sunday School."

"Oh," I just love being unintentionally convicted by a nine year-old.

Caring for a large number of young children continuously exposes one's selfish nature. Activities you probably take for granted now, like eating, sleeping and going to the bathroom, become extremely precious.

Never, ever going over the edge with kids means one either has achieved perfection or is consuming serious quantities of mood-altering medications. Reacting with frustration, frenzy or freak-outs when rearing children is completely natural; however, just because something is natural does not mean it is right.

This is why we need a Savior. God repeatedly uses my children to expose the selfishness of my own heart. This time, I have been convicted of my sin and I have finally chosen to repent. I will replace pencils for Jesus!

From now on, I refuse to allow this inconvenience to be a silly, insidious hindrance to my spiritual growth. I can dwell on Christ and His goodness, instead.

Apparently, serving God is not limited to predictable 'ministry moments.' It is of vital interest to the Lord how we respond to inconvenience, irritation and inconsideration as we serve Him. He knows we have a tendency to obsess when we have been offended. He also knows that we have to get beyond being personally offended to be of much use to Him.

To serious Christians, 'The Big Deal' is that the little stuff should never become 'The Big Deal.'

God never delights in watching us throw our little fits, and as we luxuriate in these tiny, yet sinful tantrums, we separate ourselves from Him. Experiencing the peace we crave requires that we choose to immediately forgive about a million personal offenses. God's peace is so delicious, so rare and so magnificent; it is foolish for us to get upset about silly things like stolen pencils.

Besides, at my house, that little, nifty notepad is always missing, anyway.
Kay Brown homeschools her rambunctious brood in the mountains of Northern New Mexico while dreaming of getting her laundry caught up two days in a row. Despite a burning desire to share deep spiritual truths, she finds herself struggling with the same weaknesses as everyone else and clinging to the Lord Jesus.

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